If you’re an introvert, you might feel like a fish out of water when standing in front of an audience. That doesn’t mean you can’t give a great presentation – you might just have to take a different approach than extroverts, who tend to take to the spotlight more naturally (but that doesn’t mean they never get nervous!)

Being an introvert means you get your energy from your mind and thoughts – your internal environment. You need your time for quiet, relaxed activities, and a dose of solitude will do you good. When you’re faced with a crowd and have to do a lot of socializing and talking, it drains you. You might be outgoing and love to chat, but by the end of the night, you’re exhausted. Extroverts get their energy from their external environment – they feel more energized being around people and stimulating surroundings. This makes them more likely to feel (or at least seem) more confident in public speaking engagements.

This doesn’t mean you have to become or act like an extrovert to be a great public speaker. Introverts have a hard time acting like someone else; they prefer to be genuine. Improving as a public speaker will involve some self-acceptance as well as some development of skills to boost your confidence and performance. Take these tips into consideration, designed specifically with the introvert in mind.


Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Everyone, whether introvert or extrovert, has both strengths and weaknesses. When you’re going to speak in front of an audience, it’s important to know yourself well. If you can identify your own strengths and weaknesses, you can accentuate the positives and push any shortcomings into the background. You might be great at telling jokes, but if you’re not, you probably don’t want to go that route. Maybe you’re an artist and can incorporate some of your art into your presentation. Whatever your strengths may be, use them to enhance your presentation. As for the weaknesses, unless used in an entertaining, self-deprecating way, it’s best to leave them at home.


Get Inspiration from Extroverts

People who are naturally energized around people have a certain way with presentations. You could benefit from paying attention during presentations by people who come across as extroverts (you’ll be able to spot them right away). Whenever you’re in the audience, take note of how they “perform” on “stage.” What mannerisms do they use? Do they move around or stay still? How do they engage the audience? Pick up as many tips as you can that you can apply to your own public speaking engagements. It may take a little practice before it feels natural, but introverts can learn as skills what extroverts do naturally.


Build a Rapport With Your Audience

Talking to a group of people you’ve never met can be nerve-wracking. You have the ability to change this before your presentation starts. Comedienne Carole Burnett would start every show with a humorous Q&A with the audience, setting a good tone for the rest of her performance. You can do the same, in your own style. As people arrive at your presentation, smile, greet them, and engage them. Ask them questions, like where they’re from and what field they work in. Remember there’s a fine line between friendly and too-friendly: stick to common, impersonal topics. You’ll feel more comfortable having already talked to your audience, instead of talking to them for the first time.


Be Yourself – Everyone Else is Taken

Your public speaking engagement isn’t only about your message – it’s also about who you are as an individual. Your audience came to hear you speak specifically, so show your true colors. It’s fine to take some pointers from people you admire as speakers and include them in your presentation, but overall you need to be yourself. Especially as an introvert, it will feel unnatural to pretend to be someone you’re not. So relax and let your best self shine.

Some of the world’s best public speakers are introverts. Their natural tendency to retreat doesn’t make them less of a presenter. The secret to becoming a great public speaker as an introvert involves knowing and understanding your personality and making targeted improvements to how your present yourself. For introverts, getting out of your head is one of life’s biggest challenges, and that’s what public speaking is about – putting your thoughts out there for all to hear. It’s something that even extroverts have to work at, so don’t be discouraged – embrace your introversion, and know that you can learn what you need to know to be a great speaker.

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Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Brand & Communication Director at ClickMeeting.

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